The American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Sets Legislative Action Agenda for 2017

The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) was pushed through Congress in December 2015, but since then, FAST has done little to reduce congestion in the country’s major cities nor significantly improved mobility. For the most part, funding has been the primary issue.

Not only has the general use fund been less than was expected, but the Federal Reserve account that was to protect projects from potential funding shortfalls is not what was previously expected either.

After its inauguration, the FAST Act stalled. Twice Congress froze FAST funding, public policy measures that have prevented state DOTs from moving forward with plans to improve the nation’s highway infrastructure.

Getting the FAST Act Off the Ground

However, AASHTO officials feel confident that the 115th Congress — with the help of the new President’s White House Staff — can get the five-year plan moving forward.

Joung Lee, the association’s policy director, said: “AASHTO has been engaging in a robust dialogue with both the new presidential administration and the 115th Congress. What we are seeing is a high demand by policymakers for technical assistance on important policy issues – including funding and financing, program structure and project delivery, among many others – to aid in the design of a potentially very significant infrastructure package.”

Innovation and the Environment

According to the AASHTO’s 2017 Washington Briefing, there are 13 policy priorities.

This year, AASHTO put particular emphasis on innovation, specifically peer-to-peer innovation support and funding. In addition to highway and road development innovations, AASHTO is making the protection of the environment a priority by:

  • Addressing air and water pollution
  • Preserving parklands and wetlands
  • Creating a sustainable and resilient transportation system

In order to increase state DOT environmental conscientiousness, AASHTO plans to address air and water pollution issues pertaining to highway infrastructure development, take measures to preserve parklands and wetlands by minimizing the impact of construction and create a sustainable and resilient transportation system.

Public Transportation and Fuel Efficiency

Traditionally a leader with respect to minimizing the environmental impact of highway infrastructure development, AASHTO has always encouraged pollution and emissions awareness with technologies pertaining to fuel consumption: fuel catalysts, recap tire usage, proper component lubrication, etc.

But now, AASHTO is further pushing the environmental issue. AASHTO is planning to engage state departments of transportation in developing purposeful multi-modal transportation networks, including public transportation and non-motorized travel modes.

AASHTO is taking on a new role in Washington. In addition to highway infrastructure development, AASHTO has taken it upon themselves to safeguard what they can of the environment.


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